March the 31st 1898 the Board of Trade inspection of The
Lambourn Valley railway took place. The inspecting officer
Col Yorke, declared that subject to a speed limit of 25
miles an hour and axle loadings not exceeding 8 tons, opening
of the railway was approved. The private opening was set
for Saturday April the 2nd 1898 and the full public opening
for the following Monday the 4th of April.
Lambourn station as on the day of opening showing the original
timber water tank and the lightly laid trackwork. Track
construction was of flat bottom rail spiked directly to
the sleepers and then ballasted over. The first public service
train into Lambourn hauled four Brown Marshall coaches that
were purchased by the company chairman.
Berkshire M.P. Mr. G Mount was aboard, his duty was to open
the line officially on arrival at the terminus, both he
and Mr Gipps made the journey on the footplate along with
the driver and fireman. Thirty-Seven minutes after leaving
Newbury, the train arrived in Lambourn welcomed by a celebratory
peel of bells from the Parish Church and music from a local
Brass Band. Two further trips were made that
day each carrying around 80 fare-paying passengers.
Lambourn Valley Railway Company ran as an independent company
from the 4th of April 1898 until it was taken over by the
Great Western Railway Company on July the 1st 1905. The
new owners now had control over 12¼ miles of cheaply
built line, the first job would be to bring it up to the
exacting standards the GWR. Within 2 or 3 months,
the line was relayed with pre-used material from GWR stock.
The communication was system was improved with the installation
of two-way telephones linking Newbury to all the manned
stations along the length of the line. Lambourn Terminus
also under went a transformation during this extensive upgrading.
|Access to the station was - appropriately
enough - Via Station Road through a 15' 6" single span
gate. The rear of the Station building was supported on brick
arches whilst the steeply graded bank to the rear of the platform
was inlaid with granite blocks for support.
the 1920s, Road transport was starting to impact on the
railway companies quite noticeably and in an effort to compete
with the private transport operators, Great Western aquired
a large fleet of it's own road vehicles.Great Western's
very first local bus service was inaugurated on the 17th
of August 1925 and ran from Swindon to Lambourn, travelling
via Stratton Park, Wanborough and Aldbourne. A second Swindon
service was introduced on the 26th of July 1926 passing
through Ashbury, Wanborough and Coate. This particular route
lasted just three years, and was withdrawn on the 6th of
view shows The staff with one of the Thorneycoft buses
used on the Swindon to Lambourn service. The Bus is
parked on the Station platform which was its defined
arrival and departure point.
Left - Signalman Bert
Allen with his dog outside the signal box
almost identical views of 1901 class 2007 as the crew
prepare for a somewhat uncomfortably cold and draughty journey
back to Newbury Station. The photos would have been taken
in or around 1934.
Lambourn to almost anyone and they immediately connect it
with the Horse Racing industry. Race Specials were a common
occurrance on the line especially throughout the 15 years
between 1920 and 1935, a time when race traffic was at it's
pinnacle. Several of the Lambourn trainers had private horse
boxes with their names' sign-written on either side. These
boxes were usually Paco 'A's which were dual fitted for
for working to Redcar or Newcastle over LNER tracks, where
westinghouse braking was a required commodity.
Signalman's comforts included a stove, cupboards, desk and
chair. The business end of the box contained a stud
locking frame with 20 levers at 5 inch centres. This view
taken in 1938 also shows 9 spares (painted
white). Other signalling equipment included
a No. 9 token instrument for the section of line to Welford
it replaced the earlier tablet instrument. Such a simple
box was for many years classified 6 in the GWR grading system,
Class 1 being the highest.